Saturday, December 29, 2018

Nearly the end of the year

Hi,

I hope you've had a good Christmas and maybe you got (or gave!) some cool presents. Have you managed to polish off the remains of the left-overs and the metric tonne of chocolates? I think we may have had our first proper dinner today. Okay, it was homemade pizza, but at least it wasn't turkey sarnies. That was tea ;-)

With this somewhat funny time between Christmas and New Year, I thought I'd take this time to spread a bit of nice news. In previous years I've been running a Happiness Jar, and for those who missed this last time, everytime something good happens, I'd pop a PostIt into the jar and count them up at the end of the year.

This year, I've replaced that with a journal app - always embracing the new here at Jones Towers ;-) - and I've been trying to take note of at least three good things a day. Usually, the app pops a reminder up about 9PM, so I've the time to write something, and it's not quite late enough that my brain has packed up for the night. :-) There's even an option to clip some photos into the entry, so family things or whatnot can easily be included.

Take today, for example, my computer - which I bought in the summer - has died a death. But, the good news from this is that A) the kids' PC downstairs can now have extra RAM and storage (which makes them happy), B) I've cobbled together an old PC that still works (hence this post being a day late), and C) I can still carry on gaming using the XBox I bought for my birthday. So, some loss, but more gains, I think.

Does the above spill over to my t-side? Well, not always, I am aware of certain trigger points (hairstyles, some social occasions, and the sound of shoes), but mostly it's okay. Feel free to mock gently with the line it's okay, except when it isn't. It's fine if you want to :-) But one thing I seem to be more okay with, is not hitting myself over the head with the Passing Stick. No, it's not something from Harry Potter, I'm sure JKR would have had a much more delightful word for it. :-) I'm not saying I pass, I'm really not saying that. What I am saying is I think I'm mostly okay with how I look, and should I see a trans person who looks great - be that in the real world or the less-real on-line space - I am happy for them. There's no room for jealousy or self-doubt. Well, except on fat days, but we all have them right? :-)

All the above aside, I would like to say a few things in terms of thanks:

  • ...to allies and organisations who get in touch to learn more about how to support trans people.
  • ...to my kids who amaze me as they grow and change.
  • ...to my partner(s) in crime in capturing the fashion moments on camera.
  • ...to someone who said "...treasure that photo of you in Leicester. You look so natural."
  • ...to someone who said I cheer her up and make her laugh.
  • ...to the makeup lady who treated me just like any other customer and helped me pick the right item. Not just for me, but for the Ever Lovely Mrs J.
  • ...to the special lady in my life who supports and loves all of who I am.
  • ...to those of you who blog and share with the rest of us trans folk.
  • ...to those of you who read and comment on this little blog of mine.
  • ...to those of you who share in my ups and downs, and share your views.
  • ...to those of you who share my blog (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13)
  • ...to those who draw on their courage to walk into Chameleons for the first time.
  • ...to those who make the effort to organise, sort the funds, get the milk, run discussions, and volunteer.
  • ...to those who post on the Chameleons forum and keep it ticking over.
  • ...to those who welcome new folk to Chameleons.
  • ...to vendors who visit and don't treat as income, but as valued clients.

Bonus points if you spot the go-to pose
I'm not going to name names because not everyone likes that. However, for those of you who've been longtime readers, you may know who I'm talking about. Sssh! Spoilers!! :-)

So, this will be the last post for this year, and I'm going to wish you lots of luck for the future. Let's hope it's a good one.

I'll stand by the snap from the slimming group's poster at the Centre: there are no strangers, only friends you've yet to meet. Perhaps that should be the group's new slogan. Well, subject to copyright. :-)

Take care & thanks for reading,
Lynn
x

Friday, December 21, 2018

Wishes

Hi,

I finished early today and as I didn't use all of my leave for last year, this Christmas break will be a little longer than usual. Given the occasionally frantic pace of the modern workplace, for me, this extra time away felt a long time coming.

I'm very much looking forward to spending Christmas with my family and being able to cast aside any worries about projects, reports, or the rest of that red-tape guff.

Indeed, the only red tape I'll be bothered about will be of the festive sort. That around the presents for the Ever Lovely Mrs J, Wee Man, and Little Miss. I hope that what they have, they enjoy. I'm often a bit nervous around the worry that I've not quite done enough, or got the right thing, but hey, you can only try your best right?

Nerves aside, I would like to wish you all a good Christmas, and whatever you are up to, I hope you're safe and in good cheer.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Xmas Do

Hi,

In an effort to not just sit about the office, I do try and get out a bit. Today was one of those lucky days in which I was mostly out & about, walking between appointments, and not spending the day looking at a screen, just moving email around. Apparently, that is classed as work: go figure!

Given how spread out the organisation is, I clocked up just over 8,000 steps, which isn't too shabby for an office bod once you chuck in the early morning walk with the doggos. Of course, maybe I wouldn't have winced on the first few thousand, had I not been stood about chatting, or dancing to 80s pop at Chameleons' Xmas Do.

Yes, it was the party to end the season on and I had a very good time. We all worked together to set out tables, bring party food, look our best, and enjoy the company of each other. Diane was kind enough to take on disco duties, so that was one less thing on the list (thanks Mrs!). Because I'd not had to sort the playlist, what was on was both a blast from the past, and a pleasant surprise as some old favourites came on. Steph seemed to be in charge of the oven (hello Mrs Domesitcated :-) ), and our meeters & greeters worked the floor to make old and new faces alike feel welcome.

It has been quite a mad rush this week, with school plays, parents evenings, and work stuff. So, it felt great to have a night out and let my hair down (or put my hair on? :-) ). I must confess I've still not got the hand of false eyelashes, but despite an emergency repair earlier on, somehow they stayed on.

Other than a quick dance, nibbles, and much laughter. it was great to catch up with folk I'd not seen in a while (Sarah & Nicole: both looking fab). Sometimes it can be difficult to fit a regular visit in, so whenever people make the effort to attend, much as time permits, I - and others - make an effort to see how they are.

Despite the slight twinge in my feet this morning, all has been well. No hangovers (a benefit of not drinking) and not feeling too full either (a benefit of corsets :-) ).

My recently purchased velvet skirt fitted fine, so there was no need for the emergency outfit nor emergency-emergency outfit to be used. Still, better to have and not need, than the other way around. Yes, I'm conscious that the top (a body) is something I've worn a number of years, but this year, I didn't feel like buying another dress. Not only was it the cost, but that given I go to one Xmas party a year, it felt a bit wasteful to splash out on something for just that event. But then, maybe that's my Scottish heritage talking :-)

On a closing note, Val was kind enough to say something very complimentary about the snap from last week, on how natural I looked. That really did add to the happiness meter, so thanks Val.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, December 07, 2018

Updates

Hi,

Every once in a while I check the Chameleons' website to make sure all is well. Mostly this is a case of ticking a few update boxes, and the software does the hard work. Dare I say, as someone who works in IT, that this is how it should be. Updates arrive and work on our phones, computers (mostly), and of late, televisions, and quite probably cars.

What's this got to do with being trans? Well, there are times when an update needs a bit of work. It's not a case of tick a box and then all is well. I suppose the equivalent to slipping into your favourite outfit or applying your favourite lippy: it's all very much a gentle stroll.

A few years back...
But, there are updates that take a bit more time. Uploading files, heeding the advice of make sure you have a backup, and, of course, time to sit down and read the instructions. For this, there's a bit of The Fear. What if I mess it up? What if something goes wrong? Who can I call for help?

Those fears could, I think, be easily applied to stepping out of the house dressed or attending a trans social for the first time. Fear, well, sometimes it serves a purpose: sharpens our perception, focused the minds, and - perhaps most importantly - lets us pause to think on what we are doing.

I don't think we should let fear control us and stop us. Yes, maybe listening to those points of concern, ticking some of them off, and ultimately, keep going forward. The big updates to the sites need to be done, and none of us get out of the house by hovering by the front door, feeling unable to get out.

So, feel the fear, take a deep breath, think, and set forth. You might surprise yourself.

Now, let's get these updates done. ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, November 30, 2018

Looking

Hi,

A few days ago I was driving to work and as I queued in traffic, I noticed from the passenger side, a woman coaxing her hair into style. She did have a particularly immaculate long bob, and - as per that incident being behind the hair flick incident - I felt my heart sink a little, and the stab of dysphoria.

But, I'm not here to say oh, woe is me. It was more a moment of, well, good for her. I hope she's feeling great. Instead, I found myself reflecting on what might cause such feelings, and was it actual dysphoria, or just regret? Was it even regret? Yes, this one of those introspective posts, so if this is not your bag, there's plenty of quality trans blogs listed. :-)

Still here? Okay, so I'm going to say it wasn't a feeling of regret. It's not that I've done something wrong, or not done something that I should have. Those of a techno persuasion may wish to hum that particular track from yesteryear ;-)

A frame around the past?
I didn't feel sad, but I certainly felt a slight pang that there was a situation I would not find myself in. Certainly with recently close-cropped hair, - yes, my hair has headed south for the winter, and, indeed, spring, autumn, and summer! :-) - the idea of my own locks ever reaching that length (plus, not at my bloke's age of mid 40s) are not to be.

Thing is, for most of the time, I don't mind. I'm okay with being a guy 99% of the time and - in general - such things don't bother me. Perhaps it's a feeling of bittersweet nostalgia? I have had long hair, and, when I did like having it in that period of my life.

Perhaps, like all things that have had their time, or that are no longer here, there is that wish that looking back, maybe, and even just for a bit, you could experience them again.

Still, the sun shone as the traffic moved, and once I'd parked up, it was off for a very pleasant walk through some urban woods - not an oxymoron - and off to the first appointment of the day. It was a moment to enjoy, as the light fell through the rich autumn decked trees, and think of the now. No need to look forward or back, but just to appreciate.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, November 23, 2018

When little things add up and it all goes well

Hi,

I've a couple of reasons to have a spring in my step as the working week closes. Well, other I'm not at work. :-)

Firstly, Little Miss will be another year older and she grows cooler, smarter, and a little more deadly every day. She certainly doesn't take any crap, and she's kept her caring side. This will be her last year of primary school too. As with Wee Man, I'm proud of who she is and the choices she makes.

So other things? By some luck I found a gap in the calendar to do a spot of needlecraft during the week. It came about as it would be easier to stay at home for an hour, with there, and then head into town for an appointment. With Zero Inbox achieved I finally got around to adjusting some trousers I'd bought in the sale.

Going back a few months, I bought some slim fit black trousers (ladies, natch) in the sale. Now, I know some trans folk (certainly MTF) really don't like the idea of them. But, for me, trousers or jeans are fine provided they have the right fit and feel. I wouldn't do boyfriend jeans because they feel too much like my go-to work jeans, but skinny or very loose, and I'm fine. So it is with what I'd call posh or office trousers: they have to feel right and look the part, otherwise, I just walk on by.

But said black troos were not cropped - as is the fashion - and I do like the look of said cut. Well, a brief try on, snip-snip with the scissors, and running the iron over some Instaweb; all was sorted.

Well, okay, and to be honest, I told myself cut once measure twice. I'm sure my woodwork teacher Mr Stanley would be proud. Well, maybe :-) Thing was, as I double checked the line, I moved to cut and as the scissors snipped, I realised I'd cut in the wrong place.

Bugger. :-)

Ah well, they are now a little shorter than before, but no harm done! I was very pleased with the look of them come Thursday night.  Much as office clothing for women often seems quite subdued, I find it easier to find things that work for me. Perhaps being somewhere between X and Y, I can mostly understand those choices. That or I don't have the experience of mix & match when it comes to patterns and separates. Saying that the Ever Lovely Mrs J doesn't do that either, and I think she looks great.

Still, when it all goes well, I think it's best not to look for fault, bit just to enjoy Oh, and my increase in lunchtime walks and swapping a sarnie for fruit, that has helped shift the weight so I can now get back into a favourite skirt of mine. Val was kind enough to provide her photographic assistance for a second run of snaps. Thanks, Mrs!

Talking of Thursday at Chameleons we had a minute's silence as a mart of respect for the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Yes, we were late, and no, we weren't out in public, but we do what we can where we can. A quiet word of support, a challenge to unfriendly trans/sexist comments, and whatnot. Plus, some of us do get out and, well, we just get on with our day. That might not be a big political statement, but I do think that these small acts of the everyday are how you help drive change. Maybe, and despite what some politicians are trying, we will be just part of the everyday. 

In less sombre news, we've now planned the Xmas Party, so I think we are very much on a wind down towards Christmas. Fingers crossed eh?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, November 16, 2018

Dislike

Hi,

It's been a week or so since I pressed the delete button on my Facebook account. I'm someone who is interested in people and I'm aware that through deleting it, there's a strong risk that I won't hear from those people again.

The thing is.... I'm just not friends with Facebook.

It started about a year ago or so when I heard about how the company had allowed Cambridge Analytica to behave as they did. This bubbled within the IT industry like a swamp gas. Like most niche press markets, I guess it took a while for it to hit the big time... and when it hit, woo, did it hit.

As the great and the good met, pressed their flesh (that's called a handshake on this planet, I believe), certain members of the company were called to give evidence and explain themselves. Sometimes, though, they didn't, because - well, meh - we're a multinational, so F you.

I did - as you would no doubt expect - some navel-gazing about my relationship with said company. What am I getting out of this? What would life be like without it? What am I giving up to use it? 

I was reminded of talking to an old school friend I'd not see in decades (he now lives in London), and when I asked him if he used Facebook, he said: "No, I've done some work for them and I don't like what they use your data for." Thing is, T isn't a tin-foil-hat / conspiracy nut type. To be honest with you, I brushed off his comments (not verbally) thinking that some folk don't like some software companies. Yet, that experience of his did not leave my mind but swam deep within like the shadow of a shark. Odd in a way that that line wasn't a predator, but something that needed to surface, and was something I needed to understand.

That day, I uninstalled the app from my phone and put in more privacy trackers on my browsers. Now, I'll be the first to admit I have an Android smartphone, a Google account, and I'm using Blogger (owned by Google). I'm fully aware that my footprints around t'interwebz are being collected, measured, and ads (those that get through uBlock anyway) are being aimed squarely at yours truly. Sure, using DuckDuckGo instead helps, but there's always cookies. Indeed, there's even Google Surveys which occasionally pop up on my phone and ask about my life. I'm finding it less interesting to engage on those, even if I enjoy my newsfeed telling me about certain sci-fi shows, lifestyle posts, and politics that match my views. Hello, bias confirmation. :-)

But, with Facebook, it felt a little more insidious and after removing the app, I found myself checking my phone a lot less. Previously I would scroll through what people were up to, maybe post, or re-share things I'd read that I'd found interesting. So, time given back. BTW, I should point out that I now use the Chameleons' Forum more, so maybe I've swapped one network for another. The thing is with that, is that I do see these people. It's not a replacement for friends, but something that helps me talk to them. There's no tracking or ads, either.

I had also got into a trap - and perhaps it's by design - that I was checking for who liked what I'd put. Now, admittedly, this is very much my problem and I'm not judging anyone who uses Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It's your life, you do as you wish. I can only talk about me here.... here being this free-to-use-because-of-adverts platform. :-)

The like thing, at least for me, felt as if the higher the count, the more valid or relatable that post was. But really, does that count? What does that actually mean? Sure, it's a tap to the pleasure circuits in the brain, but is this doing me any good? Once a doubt had started to form, and once I was out of the app, I became less and less interested in it.

One other thing I noticed was that previously I would take *ahem* amusing photos and share them, or create a meme about the day. Now, I would talk to others in the office, or in my family about things. I began to take the route that not everything needed to be shared. Not only that but not everything needed to be done right now. The thrill of the immediate, if you will. I see it - or, more accurately - hear it in the radio news. The analysis, the what-happens-next pieces; but I wonder, is some news better slow rather than constant?

The most difficult part was knowing that I would, in some odd way, be turning my back on friends. Yet, Facebook is a platform to serve ads. I am the product and I'm trading my privacy - and possibly my family's privacy - for that service of sharing photos or "keeping in touch". Plus, there was the whole political scandal, which had now expanded to include what had happened around advertising and Brexit.

I was conscious of the phrase that you only have so many friends. Many folk on my 'friends' list were people I'd met a few times, maybe worked with, but, and if I'm brutal about it, I didn't see day to day and our interactions were only very light through Facebook. Hell, I don't email or text these folk. I know this may sound coldhearted, but what exactly is that relationship doing? I felt that those in my life I would keep in contact with, I'd do by talking, emailing, or texting. Something a bit more 'real' if you will, than tapping an emoji.

Part of me feels that the whole friends thing is - and perhaps I was massively naive previously - just a mechanism to keep you stuck in that system. Emotion blackmail that pulls at the heartstrings, but really, only exists to keep you as a source for selling you sh** you probably don't need.

So yeah, I don't regret deleting my account. I'm glad of GDPR and the rights we have to have our data removed from a company. I don't really miss the platform, even if I know that some folk I won't hear from again. But, I feel.... I feel like I've got more time on my hands. I find myself with more patience, with wanting the immediate reward less (I'm reading more), and, I feel that when I chose to be social - like with the forum or email - then it's more on my terms.

You may, of course, feel different, and by no means do I look down on anyone who likes Facebook. Wee Man recently joined Instagram and a few mates are on Twitter. I, however, am not.... and, perhaps oddly for someone who used social media quite a bit, I'm enjoying not using it.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, November 09, 2018

The right frame of mind

Hi,

There are times, and, I don't know if you get this or not, but there's a swirl of life's events around you. Most of the time, it's the general hubbub of minor stuff, then the larger debris of bad times, and/or good things. I think that if I'm not careful, that I can be too aware of the bad debris, rather than taking the time to enjoy the better things.

So it was with this week. A meeting with tw*t-of-the-week did not enhance my calm, as a famous film of yesteryear once suggestion. I'm not going to pick over the remains of that one, but I am going to look at the better part of that. Namely, a work colleague who stuck his neck out and kindly defused the situation. Yes, I did go a find said colleague and thank him later. What a top chap!

Funny, I've been keeping a private diary where I write down three good things that happen to me each day. It can be something as seemingly regular as sharing a joke with someone, having something lucky happen, enjoying a meal, or one of those bigger good times that happen.

Yet, and I guess I'm not quite walking the talk, in that I'm not looking back at what's going well or what has gone well. Maybe that's the idea, rather than just being thankful for the good stuff.

What's been cool this week? Well, I had a great night out at Chameleons on Thursday. I had been worrying about what to wear (which really doesn't help), but when I put on my dress, it all started to come together in my head. Perhaps I just needed to top up the fabulous tank and I'll be good for a few miles more. Hmm, that didn't sound quite so suggestive until I type that out. Stop tittering at the back! :-)

Some of the Chams' folk were kind enough to provide their stories on what they get from attending. This is part of us trying to improve our website and make things more personal. There's a link here if you're curious.

I received an email to say I've completed my coaching qualification, which was unexpected but very good news. The previous essay I had really struggled with, so when a double assignment came up in the summer, I was dreading the results. Yeah, there's that negative thinking again. I must watch that. :-)

The coaching training and feedback has been really handy when talking with new folk at the group or trying to use open questions to quiz people on what they'd like to do. Despite being a blogger - which takes a certain amount of ego, I think - I do like people and, maybe when all the bills are taken care of, doing something more supportive - counselling, coaching, etc - would be very welcome.

In other news, I think we're now sorted on what we're doing about the Xmas Do, plus we've a few ideas about trying to get some cosmetics folk in as well. Fingers crossed on the last one!

Take care,
Lynn



Friday, November 02, 2018

It's easier to see the stars at night

Hi,

I'm midway through a short-break, enjoying time off with the Ever Lovely Mrs J and our two not-so-small nippers. The break from work has been very welcome and I'm glad to not see the inside of a meeting room for a time :-)

We've had a bit of an expensive month with house repairs, a replacement phone for Wee Man, and today the Hoover went pop. I've heard things come in threes, but this seems more like sixes :-)

Still, we are all healthy and money is there to be spent. Certainly, there's little point in hoarding it Smaug-style and lying about on a heap of cash. Woo, it that uncomfortable and I'd wager we'd run low on five pence pieces to make it look like more. No, give me a cosy bed and plenty of warm blankets and a duvet instead. Oh, and given the upstairs heating is off, a warm hat :-)

So, much as the metaphorical night appears to be drawing in, I am - so to speak - looking to the stars. The broken things will be replaced or fixed, to be distant memories as time passes.

Little Miss and I went out on Halloween and met up with one of her school friends. The weather was kind to us and there was much chatter, laughter, and chocolate collected.

On a related note, last week someone asked me about what I get up to at Halloween. The quick answer is only family stuff. With Chameleons being my main 'dressing up' time and with family commitments, there isn't really room for any cross-dressing shenanigans.

Besides, when I dress, much as I might be having fun, I'm dressing because that's how I feel, rather than dressing to be a figure of fun - which I feel Halloween is. Plus, I'm not quite fabulous enough to do drag (being trans*), and I think both kids are of an age that they'd know my make-up skills and fashion choices are not just once a year. So there's all of that plus the fact that Mrs J would also see me headed out and she's never seen me in Lynn mode. There's that balance between fun scary and Scary Mary. :-)

Take care,
Lynn




Friday, October 26, 2018

Accepting and not reacting

Hi,

I'm not 100% sure how to start this one, so I shall go with the usual tried and tested method of typing sh** that comes direct from my brain, into this small white square and see where it takes us. For those of you with paint to watch dry or busy-busy lives to lead, why are you here? :-)

This week has been.... complicated. Complicated by a not fully pleasant cocktail of conflict, tiredness, and a bit too much on at work. The latter is my own fault for jamming a lot in to the week and being out of the office quite a bit. Now, usually, that's not a massive issue, and indeed, if anything, I really enjoy meeting new people and hearing what they've got to say.

Perhaps it is a hangover (not literally) from last week and I'm still not back to my usual self. You know, the confused, slightly tubby Dad with two wardrobes, a fast track to self-deprecating humour, and a fine line away from a wisecrack to a visit to HR. :-)

But.... I think I have forgotten the following important philosophical teachings:

1. Most of this sh** don't matter.
2. Don't Panic
3. Remember - and be mindful - of the good times

In Life's 24 hour rolling news come social media now now now, I think there's a risk that we dwell too much on the moment and then spin out into what might be. While I think being mindful of what is happening - particularly if something good is happening - the future, and dare I sound like a good friend who runs meditation classes, is unknown.

With the above in mind and a half-finished pint in hand, perhaps taking time to think of the good things that have happened and are happening, I may be in a better mood in days to come. From a trans point of view I felt pretty good about my outfit on Thursday, we had a visit from TrendCo (hello Nicola & Steph), laughed about things, and had a good chat about life.

So, with half-term very much upon us, I'm going to kick back, enjoy what things come my way, and do my best to relax and just be.

Take care,
Lynn





Friday, October 19, 2018

Getting better

Hi,

How's things? Me? Oh, I've been better. At least it was only a bad cold. Gah, and what a stinker! Usually, I find that colds run as follows:

  1. That slightly odd feeling in your head (no rude comments, please! :-) )
  2. Lots of sneezing followed by a nose running like a tap.
  3. Wanting to eat all the food in the house.
  4. A bit more sneezing
  5. 36 - 48 hours later, everything's fine.
Items 1 and 3 might just be me, so please don't trust any research where N=1. Oh, I missed off item 4.1 where I breathe into envelopes and send letters to people I don't like. :-P

However, this cold seemed to be quite the bruiser and it's only now - a good five days later - that I am feeling much like my old self. For a time, I wasn't even interested in shopping. That's clearly a sign that Something Isn't Right With Lynn. Don't worry, there's a very long list of things where I'm not quite right, but let's gloss over that eh? :-)

So while looking for some a suitable (and legal) photo to pop int this week's blog, I stumbled on said item to the right. Now, earlier in the week I'd read about people of a certain political leaning being 'awoken' by a certain colour of tablet. Hint: it's not the green & white ones. :-) It was a disturbing read - and I say that as someone both trans and left of the centre - that people could be 'turned' towards, shall we say, less tolerant political views... and worse. 

I'm not going to talk about the negativity of the above. Instead, I'm going to come back to Our Different Journey and ask something else.  
  • When did you first feel trans?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • Did you embrace or run from it?
Those of you who've either followed this blog, or have had a poke around the site, may well have come across the Our Different Journey section of the site. To be honest, it's something I did in days gone by. Those answers are snippets in time from when they were written. While I think things may have changed for some of those writers, perhaps much will still be as is. I'm still thankful they took the time to answer my questions and share what they've learned about being trans.

Talking of that, this week I had a very nice email from someone, saying that reading those journeys had helped her. As I've said once, and will no doubt say again, if just one person finds help or solace in this blog, that, for me, can only be a good thing.

Update: I also had an email reminding me about the extension to the consultation on the Gender Recognition Act. Please do take the time to complete this survey so that trans voices are not lost. For anyone thinking there's some all-seeing, all-knowing Trans mafia out there pushing our agenda, sorry kiddo, that ain't true. Trans rights have to be pushed for, either by us or allies. So, if you an ally reading this, or a trans person - part time or full time - please do one extra awesome thing and tell the UK government how important this is. If you're not sold by my words, have a read of the PinkNews article on those organising against trans rights.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, October 12, 2018

When in doubt, wear something you love

Hi,

This week I had the good fortune to pick the kids up from school. Usually, this is the job of the Ever Lovely Mrs J, but she was indisposed in having a well deserved day out with Granny J. I popped to one of the shops on the way home as the kids needed a few things for their packed lunch.

On the way in, I spotted two young *ahem* 'scamps' (nee: chavs in the making) climbing up a bin and trying to haul themselves on top of the bus shelter. Said structure is mostly plastic and was wobbling precariously. For a moment, I did wonder about taking a snap and passing on to the school.

But, as the shelter continued to buckle, I heard my inner Dad voice say: Ah, I think we're about to witness a valuable life lesson. However, the Fates - depending on your point of view - did shine on the ne'er-do-wells and the roof did not give way. A lucky escape if you will, particularly as their parent turned up. I assume it was them, unless kids now get into cars that pip their horns loudly and yell out of the window: "Get off that bloody roof!".

Uber has really let itself down hasn't it? ;-)

Chams

Due to an early pass from home, I was early to Chameleons and unusually for me, I had my mind made up about my outfit. I was so early, that for a moment, I did wonder if I had the wrong night. It's not like that hasn't happened before. :-)

Due to 'working from home' in the afternoon, I had a spot of luck to try on a new skirt from Amazon. I've been after a non-black pencil skirt for a bit, and I thought I had fallen on the right item. Now, it's either my extra Lynn padding.... wait for it... or the extra Richard padding (non-removable), that means it didn't fit as I felt it should.

In fact, trying on two other skirts - including a favourite A line / fit & flare number - suggested that either I'm wearing the wrong size or the padding isn't working as planned. In honesty, this knocked my confidence a little. Still, when not 100%, say yes to the dress! :-) Evidence, to your right. Not only does the dress fit well, it has happy memories as it was a gift of yesteryear from the Ever Lovely Mrs J, bless her.

So, while I can gauge if a dress or trouser/top combo works (or not), I seem to have a temporary mojo malfunction in the skirt/top capacity. Maybe the next time TrendCo are in, I'll quiz their dress expert. That or plenty of Internet research and checking the sizes of said items is in order.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, October 05, 2018

Mist

Hi,

I'm not going to talk about the news today. Not because it isn't important, but knowing that if I do, it will only stoke the slow burn of rage within me. Yes, I believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty and I also believe that victims have a right to be heard, listened to, and taken seriously. Perhaps blindly, I am hopeful - or if I can admit this to myself - that we're in the last hurrah of powerful misogynists and that those not of their ilk will turn against them.

A trans-something-or-other person can dream, right?

___

I was listening to a colleague the other day about projects. Don't worry, this will be trans related. As usual, I have to go around the houses with a bit of background before getting to the point. Call it setting the scene, or, if you're more cynical, that I need to pad this sh** out to make room for a photo that'll momentarily distract us from the awful truth of life. ;-)

Where was I? Oh, yes: projects. The part that's relevant is that most work - be it a personal project, a work thing, or even the route to self-discovery - is unknown.

Sure, we have a rough idea of where things are going, and yes, there's plenty of people who can tell you the stages you'll go through.... or, more accurately, might go through.

I'm going to stress that word because no journey is ever the same. There's always some quirk of Fate, cast of the die, or personal circumstances that give life that little bit of an edge to keep you on your toes.

Yeah, we can plan out the steps of what we're going to do, but the further we get away from the now of it, the more that future mist settles. We can't know the future, only guess at it. Sure, some guesses are more informed that others, but we'll - and I'm going to do that bit to prove that there's folk about telling you what's going to happen :-) - not really know until we're almost on top of it.

What can we do about the unknown? Should that stop us from embarking on finding ourselves? I would say, no, do think of what might be. Do think on how things can be better and understand that you can't know it all before you set off. Take a few steps forward and see how things work out for you. I think there's no shame in changing direction and trying something new. Maybe it will feel like four steps back, three forward, and repeat, but you will close off the areas that aren't working for you. That's all cool. It's all part of the learning process.

Maybe you want to stand still for a bit and let things go by: that's okay too. Just, don't stand so still you become stuck. Keep looking forward, learn from the past, but don't be held back by it. With time - and learning - those mists will clear and - just maybe - you'll have a grand view to see how far you've come.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, September 28, 2018

A kick in the head

Hi,

This week saw Wee Man and I enjoy the last episode of Bodyguard. For those of you yet to enjoy it, there'll be no spoilers. A big thumbs up for a quality BBC political thriller. Brilliant performances by the cast and great writing too.

It's no secret (as it's in the trailer) that one of the lead characters has PTSD. Now, in honesty, I don't know much about that, but I would say I do know a little about seeking help. We men are not always the best at getting help when we need it, and I'll include folks on the trans spectrum too. We may not be completely 'bloke', but for some of us that's most of our background and day-to-day culture too.

But, dare I say, getting help may be just what you need. Soldiering on regardless may feel stoic and Very Stiff Upper lip, but - and maybe shock news here - there are no prizes in doing so. Shame really because I think a gift of any sort (well, only the nice type!) is always welcome.

So how does this play into this being a trans blog? Well, I think that blokes - certainly those who are somewhere on the trans spectrum - may have had years of hiding who they are, putting on a mask to blend in, sneaking around like a spy, and that's before we even get to start talking about dysphoria.

Yes, mental health issues in the trans community - and possibly due to that hidden stress - are slightly higher than for non-trans folk. Not that either group is better or worse; we're just on slightly different paths. But, regardless of who you are or who you want to be: please don't put off asking for help. That might be from a friend, your family, your doctor, or other professional. It might not feel like talking about what's bugging you will help, but, and over time, it will.

If you don't fancy confiding in your GP or suchlike, a local trans group may well be a good place to start. They may certainly empathise with your situation and I think that no-one (at those with their heart in the right place) is out to recruit or convert you.

Hell, those of us attending; we're trans-something-or-other and we've probably realised that we'll be in it for the long haul. If you are? Well, that's up to you. Maybe you will, maybe you won't. But, if you come to the group, at least you can find out and maybe make some friends along the way. Perhaps, even slightly loopy ones in rose-printed dresses ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, September 21, 2018

Old friends

Hi,

Not so long ago I bumped into an old school friend. For sake of ease, I'll call him X, but he doesn't have a wheelchair or any psychic powers. Shame really, because the latter would no doubt have helped my exam results and solved the issue of having to work for a living. Mind you, all that spandex; it's not very forgiving is it? :-) Oh, we've gone all improv and surreal again. What *is* in this tea? :-)

So X and I were having a stroll through the leafy suburbs of Nottingham. It's been well over 30 years since we last spoke, so there was much to catch up over. What had happened to who, marriage, kids, potted life history, etc. For me, all very fascinating and X certainly hasn't lost his wry wit and comic timing. Much laughter was shared at how things have played out for two boys from the sticks, who are now older, broader, balder, not necessarily wiser, blokes in the city. :-)

A few personal details were shared on X's part. I'm not 100% sure. Maybe it's my interest in his life, a willingness to share on his part, the coaching course or the recent YouTube video I watched "These are not the droids you are looking for" has really paid off. I won't impart what was said because some things are indeed private.

On that note, I - and I know now wrongly - assumed he knew about me being trans. X was in the wide social circle back when I was outed. Given the years gone by and that I'm now far more at ease with things, I thought I'd broach the subject. I opened my smartphone and showed him a snap (see right). "Do you know who this is?"

He looked for a bit, stared into the distance, and then looked to me. "Sorry, not a clue. Should I?"

I said, It's me. 

X nodded, pulled a thoughtful face and said something along the lines that he had no idea. Not only of who was in the photo but that that was part of who I was. We had a chat about trans things, Chameleons, how things have changed for trans people, and he confessed he knew very little. We spoke a little about it and the conversation moved on to kids, how culture has changed, and had life played out as we had expected. X said he'd keep things under his hat, which is cool by me, but if he does say more, we move in very separate worlds these days.

In honesty: I had no idea how things would play out - as I said to Val the other day - but I'm very glad things have gone the way they have. I've a loving family, health is okay, I get out now & again, so these are all things to be grateful for.

So, is there - to use a modern term - a take away from all of this? If there is, perhaps we're not quite so recognisable as we think we are. Sure, the voice can often be a dead giveaway, but photos and at a distance, why we might not 'pass', we do pass as someone else. Maybe, when you're out and about, that's something to keep in mind. Maybe you can worry less and enjoy the moment more. You might, fingers crossed, find happy memories.

Take care,
Lynn


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Midweek meandering

Hi,

I was about to write 'another one of those rare midweek posts', but if it's another one, how can it be rare? Hmm. Ah well, best ponder that another time!

With a bit of planning and careful changes to the work diary, my schedule was free to collect both kids.... and have a day out. It's not that going to Chams isn't enough, I think it's more that by being out in the real world, I feel I'm not moving between one closet and another one. I'm now wondering why that feels important, but that may be a post for another time! :-)

After a few emails and some outfit deliberation, I was pretty much sorted. Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but when it comes to dressing, I've a few things I like to try and balance. Part of it is feeling good about how I look. Does this outfit work? Is this me? Are the clothes too tight? Is this too young or too old? What will other women be wearing?

All of those thoughts flutter about because, and perhaps like most people, I don't want to look a mess, and I want to blend in. Sure, I don't want to be beige and disappear, but equally, I just want to go about my day and enjoy the time out. I don't dress to be looked at or noticed; I dress because it makes me happy and it's a lot easier to try clothes & shoes on when you're presenting in the corresponding gender! :-)

The snap (right) doesn't quite show the pattern top, skinny rolled up jeans, and flat I decided on. Given the weather warning for strong wind, I opted for my older wig which is slightly less flyaway than the recut one (see last week).

I had toyed with the idea (hoped?) that I could manage a red skirt and low heels with the top, but having looked at the current street fashion, we're not yet into opaque season. Ah, maybe one day my pins will be smooth, but until then, I'll just have to work with what I've got.

As way of a change, I wasn't out on my own, as Val had kindly agreed to join me. Diane was scheduled too, but couldn't make it at the last minute. These things happen! So, it was up to the not-quite-so dynamic duo to wander about, talk, check out the shops, and not terrify the locals. ;-) Sadly, I was late because I had been somewhat ambitious in my ability to get changed and arrive. At least that gave Val a chance to stretch her legs after the journey down.

What did we get up to? Well, we had a look in the sales in New Look. A few maybes in the shoe sale, but nothing I really needed. In fact, I think that was probably the theme of the day. It wasn't so much a shopping trip to get things, but chatting and shopping rather than being at work. I did find a long skirt in a charity shop which was a pleasant surprise and I think with the right top and long boots, would be spot on for A/W.

Due to the call of Dad Duties I had to call time about 1.30, and while that cut the day in half, it wasn't a mad rush to get home and get changed. All in all, a very nice day out! Everything is packed away and having stuck with ballet pumps, my feet are thanking me.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, September 14, 2018

Scaffolding

Hi,

I think I now know what my blogging kryptonite is... or maybe even, are. Namely:

  • trying to write a post after a very tasty meal. All brain power has been redirected to my stomach. Hey, I'm a man, a dad, and over 40. Frankly, it's touch and go monotasking. :-P
  • failing to write down any semblance of a theme
  • the first gin & tonic in many months
  • Tiredness
  • Any combination of the above :-)
Hmm. I may just have to wing it. :-D

With the cooler weather now very much in place - and thank all that's fabulous! :-) - it was time to think about transitional dresses. Not quite summer, not quite autumn, but that lovely in-between time. Thinking back on a few of those words from that last line, it now seems obvious that this is my favourite time of year. Still, if the stereotype fits eh? :-)

Looking in the dress cupboard - and I'll confess that it's an 80/20 split between mine and the Ever Lovely Mrs J - I spotted a few numbers that jumped out. Taking out a monochrome number I'd not seen before, I asked: is this yours?

Mrs J raised an eyebrow and a smile: "No, you daft lump, you bought it in the sale."

Ah. Guilty as charged. In that went with a backup outfit, three pairs of shoes, and the rest of my industrial scaffolding that brings all the curves to the lard. ;-)

Talking of curves, the new corset is going to take a little breaking in. I was certainly sat up straight for most of the evening.

Tracey - part of the former organising dynamic duo - popped in. Not just to rub it in that she'd retired, the lucky lady, but also to help us out yet again. Due to some issues with the bank, the old account had been put on the dormancy list. However, it seems Tracey is not a lady who suffers administrative fools. Their loss and very much our gain. With a bit of luck, the old account will be merged with the new one. Fingers crossed!

Part of completing that meant sending over some evidence to prove who the group are. Luckily, last week's nerdery of setting up a VPN has paid off. With help from Nicole's smartphone for a WiFi hotspot, I managed to connect back home through t'Interwebz and send on the necessary documents. Go team!

After much catching up, time was against us, so it was off to tidy up, take photos, and de-princess back to the land of drab. Thanks to Val for the photo!

In other good news, I saw the lady at Boots who helped me with my brow make-up. She'd received her thank you from the area manager (never let good service go unrewarded, IMO), which is cool. I also asked if she'd be interested in helping set up a make-over night for the group. Again, fingers crossed!

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, September 07, 2018

Self-care

Hiya,

This week I had the good fortune to be asked to run some trans awareness training. Unusually the event was during the evening, so no long lunch was required. Also, and given the time, I checked with the Ever Lovely Mrs J that she was okay about holding the fort and with me going along. All was fine, which is very cool and the peck on my cheek for good luck put a spring in my step. I think there's nothing quite like acceptance to make you feel loved.

I'm not going to talk about the training or the venue. Maybe I would have posted s snap if I hadn't been in bloke mode, but you can't have it all ;-) Anyhoo, one of the numerous questions they asked was off I had any advice on coping mechanisms. The ones that came to mind where:
  • Light exercise - don't mope about at home, but get out into the open air, as the simple act of regular movement can be a good anti-depressant.
  • Thinking on what's going right - rather than thinking how big & hairy you are (or the opposite for F2M folk). Look at
  • Stealth Clothing - if we're talking underwear, for M2F folk, 'boy shorts' rather than boxer shorts and a feminine vest under your shirt might help. Equally for F2M people, no lacy knickers but a proper set of blokey kegs.
  • Scent - The right choice of deodorant can - at least for me - make me feel more 'me'.
  • Mindfulness - Enjoy the here and now when you can. Truly take the time to enjoy the place you are in, the good moods when they come, and the times when your body feels like yours. Dwell on those and don't worry about the future or the past. Live in the moment.
  • Distraction - If it's not going so well, do something to take your mind off things. Try a hobby that takes up your attention: baking, painting, writing, video games, etc. Things that fill your attention so the darker thoughts can't sneak in.
  • Toes - More one for MTF people, but I find that painting my toes makes me feel more me. Even if my toes aren't visible, the fact that I know they look nice, well, that can help me feel good about myself.

The mindfulness is something I've used to promote calm feelings. While walking I'll run a commentary on my head around what I experience: the shoes on my feet, the wind against my skin, the way the trees move, or the noise of passing traffic. I find it stops me cycling over the certain thoughts by not leaving them any room to sneak in.

I'm curious if the same or similar approach would help me appreciate getting ready to go out in Lynn mode, but that will have to wait until next week.

So, my question to you, is what strategies do you try to keep the blues, or even, dysphonia at bay?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 31, 2018

The balancing act

Hi,

I was sat in traffic the other day listening to the radio. By the way, and just for clarity, I do mean sat in a car waiting for the queue to start moving. I wasn't actually in the road with a radio next to me. That would be odd. Even for me. :-)

One of the interviewees mentioned that now well-loved phrase: putting on your own oxygen mask first. As the traffic began to move, so did the rusty gears in my head. :-)

Thinking about some of the parenting books I read - which, admittedly, is now some time ago - they also used that phrase. Looking after yourself before you can truly be able to look after others.

But, and here's the question, what happens when your needs create friction with the needs of others?

I'm being hypothetical here: does my partner need her hubby to be all man all of the time? Is it selfish for a person to ask for time to be themselves? Is it better than some hobbies/activities are solo? Is compromise always the answer or it is a case that one party should always have a red warning card if things go too far for them?

Is the answer to any of the above: well, it depends? :-)

I think it comes down to balance. A balance of each party's needs, where no one feels too put-upon or denied. Walking such a line won't always be easy. Juggling the needs of others and your own can be tricky at times. Perhaps, provided there's always some give and some take - and not all on one side - the balance can be maintained.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 24, 2018

Better with friends

Hi,

Another Thursday, another good night out.

A few weeks ago, I'd caught sight of a news item about how modern life is making many people lonely. Social media may connect us, but - IMHO - it's not the full experience of meeting someone. Text on a screen with no tone, sparkle of eyes, or knowing look. Not that the article was to demonise such technology, more draw light on how it affects us. Have you sat in a restaurant or similar, and seen couples or families all looking at their phones, rather than talking to each other?

A new top thanks to the
Ever Lovely Mrs J and a snap
by Val.
Now, don't get me wrong, I find using my smartphone to stay in touch with trans friends really helps. Just, not at the cost of not talking to people who are with me. Certainly, the Chameleons' forum helps with that, as does this blog and I'm always grateful for a comment. Not because I know folk are reading, but that they've something to say. Just because I'm not in Lynn mode all the time, it doesn't mean I can't be partially in the zone, if you will.

Going back to the article, as I read it, I was reminded of my family and also friends over at Nottingham Chameleons. Sure, we may meet only twice a month, but it is a community. There are those you are close to and those you know vaguely, but we do listen & talk to each other. There is, at least for me, a connection with people, with friends. People I care about and when I had the car accident, or a visit from the Black Dog, I know they care about me. Sure, some folk may come and go, but there's a core bunch of us who keep on coming, even if they're regular regulars or irregular regulars. :-)

That sense of belonging with people who get you, understand, and support is worth so much. Certainly, something to be looked after and very much appreciated.

Happy times!

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 17, 2018

Compliments

Hi,

Over on the Chameleons' forum, one of our members, Steph, posted a happy incident in which she'd complimented a stranger and had a very positive reaction. I think paying someone a sincere compliment is both great and yet, sometimes tricky.

I think it's tricky because well, there's A) a chance that you'll get it wrong and offend, and/or B) that the person may not take the compliment. In terms of the latter, there's the whole gig around what are they after?, are they hitting on me?, to I'm not used to strangers saying this!

That last one - people saying nice things - is something I struggle with. With family, well, most of the time it's good-natured teasing, so compliments are rarely directed when you're a dad. Not that I mind and it's not why we had kids. Children are, if you'll forgive a brief diversion, both the most challenging and at the same time rewarding thing you may ever do. Both kids know how to drive me up the wall, but equally, I wouldn't be without them; they really are an adventure. Mind you, maybe I'm saying that because they're out of the baby stage and not yet in full teenage rampage. Ask me again in a few years :-D

Where was I? Oh yeah, I guess there's a blurred line between saying thank you and a compliment. Take Little Miss or Wee Man doing something kind for someone or helping out, I'll say something like That was really good of you do to that. Thank you! Equally, the Ever Lovely Mrs J gets nice things said because, well, she's ever lovely. Not that any compliment isn't earned, if that makes sense.

So when folk do say something nice about me - how they like my shirt - or someone at Chams, I try not to shrug it off and say thank you instead. The shrugging off isn't that I don't appreciate nice words, it's that I'm struggling to accept them. Me not them, so to speak... but I do try!

As to saying nice things to others, while I'm not sure if it's right, I usually say something like "may I say your blah looks great/fantastic/brilliant" where blah is makeup, outfit, nails, shirt, etc. It's fairly generic, but it's legitimate and doesn't have that personal touch - unlike what the kids get - where there's some feedback linked to it.

So, yeah, I might say "May I say your new dress looks great", but I won't say "Your new dress looks great and makes you look slim." I guess I'm worried that someone may read something too personal into the latter and I only say such things to people I really know.

Has it worked?

So in general just saying something nice has pretty much always gone well. A few years back I was out with my family shopping in Boots. The lady who served me had the most beautiful nails. Classy, well painted, with a length and shape that suited her. I said, "I hope you don't mind me saying, but your mails look amazing." She said thanks, I paid and took the goods, with nothing more of it.

Heading back to Mrs J, she asked: "What did you say to the assistant? She's grinning like she's just won a prize." I took a quick peek over my shoulder and indeed Mrs J was spot on: said assistant looked most chuffed. I hope she enjoyed those words all day.

Likewise, if a colleague I like is sporting a fancy hairdo or is rocking a new shirt, I'll mention it politely. Just a question if it's recent and conversation rolls on from there. Not that I go around commenting on what people wear that would be rude. I have this blog to do that ;-) I am surprised on how people will happily talk about their new top or suchlike. Maybe it's people taking an interest, but you may feel differently.

Last week

Due to being away there was no time to post a snap from last week. Now we're back at home, there's a chance to show Val's photographic handiwork. Oh, to which I'm always grateful for, even if Muggins here isn't always the best subject :-D

In the spirit of trying something new, I'm giving my re-cut wig (thanks Steph!) another run. It does take me a while to get used to new things, but I think I'm getting there.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 10, 2018

Good things

Hi,

I think that there are times when it's all about the simple things in life. Take today for example, the cooler weather meant I could ditch the baggy trousers and sandals, returning to my preferred jeans and Converse trainers look. Yes, I am a Dad of a certain age, but team the previous with a fancy shirt and I'm feeling more myself. Funny how the right clothes help you out huh?

With all the sun of late, it seems it's an early blackberry season too. Now, other than feeling okay with how I look, if there's one pleasure of the summer.... okay, other than a nap in the sun or ice cream on a hot day... for me, it's got to be picking blackberries. I think the concentration and simple movement from patch to patch very relaxing; almost mediative in a way. Like losing yourself in painting, baking, or doing your makeup.

Funny thing is, I'm not really a fan of blackberries on their own. But, maybe as jam or in an apple pie, and, wooo, now we're talking. With the any of those, they're a dish to be shared and for me, that adds to the happiness.... even if my daughter ate half the stash ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 03, 2018

The Second Train

Hi,

Over in the Chameleons milabox, we recently received an email from a media company, TellyJuice, about a short documentary they'd made. Usually, media requests are for people to appear in a production, or take part in some reality TV production. The better ones - the education, the sensitive, etc - I post on the forum. The other stuff, welcome to /dev/null/ (Ed: for non-nerds, Lynn means the bin. Or t'bin if you're proper North :-) )

So, this video, which may appear below if I can get the web code right, was very different. I found it moving, deeply personal, sensitive, and beautifully filmed. While it brought forth a tear, I think that was bittersweet: I was happy that they'd made it. Happy that they had found themselves and found the courage and support to make the journey they needed. Maybe it's never too late to get another train, whatever your preferred destination.


The Second Train
from TellyJuice on Vimeo.

Take care,
Lynn

PS: I'm not sure how, but somehow I've snuck on to No 3 in the UK Trans Blogs.... which is nice ;-)


Friday, July 27, 2018

Being me once again

Hi,

This week, a blog post of two halves, or what a difference a night out makes ;-)

Pre

It's midweek while I write this and I'm beginning to feel the ache - because 'pain' doesn't quite nail it - of having been 'Richard' since late May. Sure, I've missed a meeting or two here and there, but mostly I get by. This time, there's been no dressing while working from home to help fill the gap, and with Wee Man and Little Miss now on summer break, that's not an option right now.

The ache, if you will, goes in fits and starts. I can feel my temper coming too quick, which I know is wrong. The excessive heat isn't helping either. It's not that I'm angry, it's more than I seem to find anger more readily than before. This is my problem and not my family's. They've not done anything wrong, so I'm doing what I can to keep 'the beast at bay' as it were. Plenty of distraction techniques (TV, gaming, reading makeup blogs, napping, getting out in the sunshine, etc), and I seem - oddly - to have rediscovered a taste for apples. That is helping me move to a lower weight, as that's crept up with the beer I've been drinking.

Ah, the joys of being trans-something-or-other eh? :-)

Post

Given my mood around the heat and a lack of dressing up, the Ever Lovely Mrs J asked me why didn't I get my things together and try to dress in cooler clothes. I'm hoping she meant dressing in less warm fabrics, rather than gah, you're such a square. :-)

This I did despite what felt like the hottest day of the summer, and - as per - Mrs J was right. I did find an answer to my problem. The community centre where Chams is based has air-con. There's a bar area - although no beer - which has A/C. Given that's fairly private and with an early pass from home, I cranked the temp down to a more pleasant 19C and started to get ready.

I never knew how cooling maxi skirts were! Well, you live and learn. Even with some shapewear on, I wasn't melting - always a bonus! :-) Chuck in a cute vest top, painted nails, and a smile - I was good to go. 

Steph from TrendCo had very kindly restyled the long red wig of mine into something shorter and (hopefully) a little more me. It really needs to be 'set' with a wash to help the new parting settle, but a few squirts of wig conditioner did the trick.

It felt great to be all of me again. Just talking with friends at the group and having some laughs. This night out - and respite from the heat - really pepped me up, and I feel a lot better.

Funny how a night out can set you straight, eh?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, July 20, 2018

The cure for the summer time blues?

Hi folks,

I've watched the little white box of the Blogger window on and off for one too many minutes. For someone sat so quietly, listening to the distant and infrequent sound of passing cars, you would think that something would come forth. But, not yet. The memories and hopes spin around my mind, fleeting in focus, and then fluttering away. A quick diversion to Pexels finds a suitable graphic and my imagination - or improv - kicks in.

Much like the long, slow, loops of a butterfly's drift, so too has this week been a case of gentle drips and rises.

The temperature continues to frustrate me, although I did get out on my bike a couple of times to stretch my legs. It's either that or I'll be needing to stretch my clothes. :-)

The dips have been around the feeling that the heavy heat will remain. As I posted last time, I don't really do hot weather, and chuck in a wig, shapewear, and the need to cover up Ol' Wookie pins.... well, it's hardly a recipe for summertime bliss.

But, not wanting to back into the dark woods (yay, CBT for the win!), I decided to try and do something about it. Hence, moderate exercise, time outside of the office, engaging with people, trying to create things, and, that old devil, a bit of material non-therapy.

Why that last term? Because I think I think I now know that retail therapy isn't a fix for me. Sure, the search for something 'just right' - feel free to think of a new riff on Goldilocks's story :-) - helps distract, but that's about it. I'm wary of using shopping as some type of medication or tool to hope me cope with what's lurking within.

But, this time I felt it was different. Ah, addicts, how they lie to themselves and others :-D Could I work around the problem? Did I have to do vest top and skinny jeans or tunic and leggings? Could I do a maxi dress? Well, I have *ahem* invested, so we'll see I guess. It's certainly long and loose enough. Maybe with the right wedges and a top....?

So, perhaps when the butterflies of wish and memory circle, I should let them flutter by. Maybe they will land and show me something. Maybe not being too hands on is a way to let the world - and I  - be, and, just maybe, I'll find a little corner of peace that is more just so than anything from a shop.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, July 13, 2018

Moolah

Hi,

I think I can safely say that I'm not a hot weather worker. Come to think of it, too cold and I'm not exactly spritely either. Maybe I'm just not cut out for the office life? :-D Could it be my odd Celtic/Nordic genetic cocktail? I'm all in when it comes to a nap in the sun, but it's touch and go for anything more taxing than fetching me or the Ever Lovely Mrs J a cool drink. :-)

With the heat and the bright earning mornings, my sleep hasn't been what it usually is, so I'm kinda not in the zone when it comes to T stuff. So, another Chams meeting in bloke mode. Maybe to 'cure' the outward symptoms of being trans I just need to move somewhere hot! :-P Not that the internal mental processes switch off, they're just lurking unseen. Hopefully, they're not saving themselves up to pounce! :-)

___

Any more pies and I'll be this shape too.
Maybe without the slit at the top tho.
With summer being in full swing, numbers are down at Chams. This is to be expected, but it doesn't help when it comes to the finances. We need to hit just under 200 quid every month to cover costs and we're not making that sum as things stand. I had a brief chat with Val and Nicola about this, so I think we're going to have to increase the subs by a quid or a quid fifty. This may not be popular, but if we want to keep the venue we know and love, it'll have to happen. In fairness to the Centre we get our upstairs changing room for free, and very good rates on the hall plus bar area..... Not that it's a bar with drinks.

I'm not hearing anything back from the places I've sought funding from and I know last year's shortfall had eaten most if the funding gift we got.  Based on previous experience bring & buy sales make a little bit of difference, but not enough to keep the subs down. Maybe cake is the answer? But then I'll need a new wardrobe and I've too many nice things I like to wear. No, maybe not a cake sale :-)

Take care,
Lynn

PS: Apologies to Val for not using her photo from last week. Slight comms issue. :-)

Friday, July 06, 2018

Stories from others

Hi,

This time, a guest post from Val about her trip to Chams last week.

___

A woman's handbag is a repository of many things, as well as an accessory that must suit any outfit.  The last time I was out shopping, I selected a brown 'patchwork' shoulder bag. It is easy to keep it under your arm, maybe with a light jacket folded over the top, warding off unwanted attention from any thieves and leaving both hands free for the tasks of selecting and analysing your prospective purchases. But when it comes to Notchams on a Thursday night, I fall back to a favourite black handbag.

This weeks outing was touch and go, we had friends coming back to our house after a meeting – there would be tea, cakes and talk, but we needed to herd them discreetly out the door at 5.30 if we were to eat and I get into Val-mode. I warned Lynn by text that I might be late and to get some milk in.

5.30 went to 5.45, then 6pm, and finally they were away at quarter past.  My wife rustled up dinner while I showered, did the food justice, then back upstairs to finish converting him to her.

As you get older, the makeup routine I find gets a little quicker. It's not that I am getting better skilled, or more dexterous, rather than as my eyesight fades, I don't see the imperfections, as well as I, used to. It was a hot evening by UK standards, and a long soft stretchy dress in cobalt blue, combined with a contrasting belt in the hope of suggesting a narrower waist, blue necklace and earrings, and with the hair on and a pair of blue-strap wedges I'm ready to go.

Apart from the bag. I get the two together and start swapping things over – spare glasses, makeup bag, tissues – then add the envelope with last time's takings in for Lynn to pay in, and the float (a few £ coins as those without change always arrive first) then Val's purse is opened up, his jeans raided for coins and paper money, and I wonder how many times spouses and girlfriends have raided their man's trousers for a bit of extra cash like Val is now. Still not finished. I need the mobile, my Bluetooth earpiece for driving, car keys and my camera for those vital 'how well did the outfit work?' photos at the end of the evening.

Then the phone rings, and I am stuck explaining what went on in the meeting for the 55th time, the clock is ticking and it now after 7.20. Finally, it's out the door into the car and away and a dash down the M1. It's a nice relaxed evening. Lynn has let the side down by staying in him-mode, but in a sense, she's here with the same distinctive laugh, just less hair, curves and fashion-sense.

When it's time to head home there's no desire to go haring back up the motorway. It's about midnight, the roads are quiet and I'm at that stage when I know it's nearly over but I want time to stand still. I pick the B roads back, up into the hills of Derbyshire. Not a straight line home but a wandering route through sleeping villages and a stop in a lay-by where I can look up at the stars and feel the cool night air blowing the cobalt blue material around my bare legs. Oh, that this sensation of comfort and calm could continue forever.

But it can't and I've a couple of miles to go on a very minor road, some nights where you'll see the occasional badger or fox going about their business in the headlights. As I drop down the hill into the valley, I reach into my handbag with my left hand to dig out the house keys, for my wife will have been in bed for over an hour and the lights will be off so as not to illuminate the strange woman at the door.

My hand continues to rummage. My keys live together attached to a sheep mascot, presented to me by a good trans friend knowing my penchant for Shaun the Sheep. It is hard not to find it in my handbag, but tonight my fingers scavenge in vain. The zip pocket is also empty – I usually raid his card holder to put in there – not just for the VISA but the AA card in case the car breaks down and I must do my damsel-in-distress act, after all, I am not turning the cobalt blue into greasy black when a man can come and fix it for me. But tonight, I realise, for the first time after 17 years of Val being out and about, I have left Sian and the house-keys in the other bag.  Nothing for it, ring the phone and get her out of bed to open the front door. Keep calm, apologise profusely: no point in turning the cobalt blue into a nightie and waiting for morning.

The man in me ponders a handbag checklist, pasted to the inside of the cupboard door, consulted at every outing to ensure that it is never forgotten again. But right now I'm Val, and here's to the next 17 years.

___

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, June 29, 2018

What if, what if, what if?

Hi,

With the hot weather, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I will sometimes take an early walk. Part of me worries that the kids will look in the cupboards. Or, more specifically, the cupboard upstairs where I keep all my Lynn things.

Not the skirts, tops, dresses, and whathaveyou that are mixed in with my bloke things. Because, and let's face it, they could be Mrs J's (although we have a different taste in clothes). No, it's the wigs, the box of tights, shapewear, and heels that their mum has never worn.

When I paint my toes and it's a few days before I can remove the evidence, what if someone sees?

When I go to Chams or give a talk, what if I meet someone I know?

What if this heatwave continues? How do I balance 100% bloke with needing to express all sides of me?

What if someone sees me when I'm browsing through cosmetics or buying a new top?

What if, what if, what if.....

What if I'd never taken a step outside? What if I'd never been honest with Mrs J? What if I'd never dared start this blog or if I'd not gone to Chameleons?

I'd be poorer for the lack of all that. Poorer for not growing and learning. Finding that it's not just okay to be trans, but to understand I get a slightly different view of the world. Not better or worse, just different.

What if, that makes it all okay?

What if, I can understand that much in life isn't forever, but moments to be ignored or enjoyed. The bad and the good.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, June 22, 2018

Stillness

Hi,

This week on our development course - that's helping others develop, not us (well sorta) - we had a visit from a counsellor. She specialised in getting people to get outside and to join her on walks in the countryside.

As an icebreaker, she asked us to think of our preferred natural habitat. Before you think it, it wasn't swanning about en femme someplace :-) I've said this a few times before on this blog, but my go-to place for tranquillity - either in my head or in the real world - is woodland.

Ideally old woods, with huge trees that reach up to the sky and whose branches splay out to cover the sky that beautiful mix of green.

I was born out in the sticks and the first house that the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I bought, well, it was very much in the city. Yeah, there were a few hedges and a few grass lawns, but that was it. If I leaned close to the window, I could just make out the treetops from a distant park. I think I was surprised at just how much I missed the countryside.

To stand in woodland and see those colours; to hear birdsong; to feel the breeze on my skin; to smell either the soft scent of pine or the rich dampness of leaves; to me, that's to let go. Not to think, but just to witness and let it all drift by. Those moments of peace, I think, are to be treasured.

So now, well, we're lucky that we live out in the countryside once again. Woods aren't far and once the rush hour has gone, the view over the fields is quiet. It feels good to be out in nature.

What about you dear reader, where's your place in nature? Woods, sea, lakes, moors, caves, cliffs, fields, deserts?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, June 15, 2018

When the wind blows

Hi,

Back in the mists of time when I started work but did not yet have a car, I cycled to work. Rain or shine, that was me. The only weather that really bugged me was wind. Oddly, I became quite perceptive of the breeze given its effect on my ride to and from home.

So it seems that's the case now I go out. It's not much of an issue when going to Chams as we're inside. Instead, a good breeze merely keeps the place slightly cooler. However, if you're talking in the real world, I find it affects what I wear (no floaty skirts) or where I go (wig in disarray).

Like anyone sporting a dress, there is the risk of a Monroe moment. By that, I don't mean possibly dating a famous politician or drying your undies using the subway vent. No, it's that risk that a quick gust of wind suddenly raises one's hemline to heights no self-respecting lady (part-time or otherwise) would enjoy.

Many years ago I'd gone to a trans-friendly pub in Derby. This was back in the day when Wee Man would be tucked up in bed, so no worries about coming home en femme. Out I stepped into the night and whoosh, in blew the wind and my wrap dress did it's best parachute impression by raising itself rapidly skyward. Luckily for my modesty and the sanity of everyone, no one was about. Not that it's a life lesson I've forgotten.

Now, when the wind blows, I'm a little wiser to its tricks and avoid passing directly by narrow alleys or - if it's really going for it - staying inside. One has standard to keep.... and I don't want to be chasing my wig down the street either. In these shoes? C'mon! :-)

Take care,
Lynn